People ask me all the time about the well-known people I meet.
But the thing with me is I don’t really get awestruck about the famous anymore.
Maybe it is because I worked as a protocol officer while in graduate school during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where I met heads of state, movie stars, and athletes over and over during the course of the Olympic Games.
Or maybe it’s because I believe that celebrities are human beings like the rest of us.
Or because my parents raised me to speak to nearly anybody in the kindest way I know how.
But, if I were still to get awestruck, I would have last week while attending the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City.
Coming out of the steps of the Sheraton Times Square, I brushed shoulders with a who’s who of leaders in international development, business and politics—President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, President Obama, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Chelsea Clinton (a couple of days before her baby was born, I might add!), Katie Couric, heads of many foreign countries, countless CEOs of global corporations, news anchors galore… The list goes on and on.
It was wonderful to meet together with some of the most passionate and influential minds to discuss global change. I was honored to be Feed the Children’s delegate. And during the three days that I spent at the conference, it was good to be involved in the conversation with many of the world’s influencers.
Hillary Clinton. She led sessions on education of women and girls saying to us: “We know when girls have equal access to quality education in both primary and secondary schools, cycles of poverty are broken, economies grow…”
Graca Machel (Nelson Mandela’s widow). She received the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award and shared with us about her passion saying: “Education should never fail because it gives a child a sense of normalcy.”
Matt Damon. As co-founder of Water.org he compelled all of us with stats about the importance of clean drinking water. I left his session thinking all day about how more people around the world have access to a cell phone than they do to a clean water source.
In hearing these inspiring words, I began thinking about the role of influencers in the work of bringing hope to those who need it most around the world.
One of the greatest life lessons my family taught me from our Christian faith tradition is that “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).
This is why I believe that if I am given anything of value in this life, it is my responsibility to give back. Countless others, I know, share this sentiment.
It is our goal to offer people in positions of notoriety an opportunity to join in Feed the Children’s mission and to give back to society. We are not alone in our stance that no child should go to bed hungry, no matter where they live. We want to facilitate more champions in this great cause who desire to use their following for good.
As President Bill Clinton said in one of the breakout sessions: “We are creating a network of cooperators.” I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative this year. I look forward to future events with these new colleagues and to joining forces with other leaders, famous or not, who want to defeat hunger.